Interview: Cage The Elephant on Stage Dives, ‘Morbid Relationships’ & Roller Disco

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By Jay Tilles

It’s going to be a circus on tour. As part of their continued support for their 2013 album Melophobia, Cage the Elephant‘s third full-length release, the four guys from Bowling Green, Kentucky will hook up with another band of wild beasts, Foals. As singer Matthew Shultz told, Foals will open for Cage The Elephant throughout the U.S., then swap to take the headlining position in Europe.

Shultz said he and the group didn’t have any “expectations” for their tour with Foals (except that they “expect Foals to play awesome,” he joked), just that they are looking forward to the experience. “They were the very first band that we befriended a couple years back when we moved to England. They were one of the first tours that we ever did.”

Shultz, famous for his two-story stage dives and fearless crowd surfing, admitted that he has been injured at times, including managing to separate his rib cage from his sternum at a London show, and breaking various bones in his foot. However, he didn’t appear worried about the body damages. “Those are just a couple times out of the many that have gone [well].” His priority, he said, is simply to “not to injure fans” while performing his leaps of faith.

And really, hurling himself into the crowd is just a parlor trick. The real magic is in Shultz’s songwriting.

Shultz revealed that he often conjures particular characters when he writes. In the case of “It’s Just Forever,” for instance, the story revolves around a “morbid relationship” that was inspired by the Screaming Jay Hawkins track “I Put A Spell On You,” where, as Shultz explained, “both parties are grossly obsessed with each other” and “intertwined in this sick love story.”

For the female vocal, Shultz had Alison Mosshart at the top of his wish list; he said he and the the band were stunned when The Kills singer responded with a quick “yes.”

Responsible for conceiving most of Cage The Elephant’s videos, Shultz said the upcoming video for the group’s current single “Take It Or Leave It” was inspired by the Oscar-nominated film American Hustle and its “’70s disco” aesthetic. He even had some specific references from the period, saying that “the video is kinda like Saturday Night Fever meets Skate Town USA,” the latter a 1979 roller-disco film starring Patrick Swayze. “The skaters that we got were amazing, everything looked really authentic,” he beamed.

Since forming some eight years ago, the four Cage The Elephant bandmates earned their stripes playing massive festivals like Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, where they are slated to make a return appearance this April. “I love the challenge of this huge crowd that has no clue who you are,” he said of the band’s past festival experiences.

With any live show, Shultz explained that his goal is to create an experience that keeps people talking long after they head home. And at a festival like Coachella, he said, “there’s even more drive to do that.”

Cage the Elephant 2014 North American Tour

04/12 — Indio, CA @ Coachella
04/14 — San Diego, CA @ Belly Up
04/18 — Ventura, CA @ Ventura Theater
04/19 — Indio, CA @ Coachella
04/21 — Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre
04/22 — Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theatre
04/24 — San Antonio, TX @ White Rabbit
04/25 — Houston, TX @ House of Blues
05/02 — Raleigh, NC @ Red Hat Amphitheater
05/04 — Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre
05/06 — New York, NY @ Terminal 5
05/09 — Atlanta, GA @ Shaky Knees Festival
05/10 — Richmond, VA @ The National
05/13 — Toronto, Ontario @ Kool Haus
05/14 — Chicago, IL @ Aargon Ballroom
05/15 — Minneapolis, MN @ Myth Live
05/17 — Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
05/18 — Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
05/20 — Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater

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